It appears that it is men, rather than women, who find it more difficult to get back into a relationship after divorce and so are more likely to go through middle-age and later life alone.
Almost 2.5 million people in the UK, aged 45 to 64 have their own home but no spouse, partner or children living with them – up 50 per cent since the mid-1990s, according to new data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).
So why is it men are finding it harder to re-engage in romance? Well, the suggestion is that it is women being too choosy! Brilliant. Must have been written by a man. It is suggested in a piece in the Daily Mail (Lonely UK) that middle-aged women with good qualifications and jobs have little interest in forming relationships with lower-earning men.
But the phenomenon could also be a result of more casual relationships – people living together but never formally committing to a long-term union making it easier to bail out if things go wrong, as well as a lack of incentive to marry in terms of the tax breaks that there might have been in the past. Unromantic maybe, but something else to think about. Just looking at council tax, you get a 25% discount if you stay on your own rather than living with someone else.
The rise in solo occupation households to 7.6million households – 29 per cent of the total –coincides with a rise in the percentage of those who are divorced or never married.
It will not be news to any of you who have read this blog for some time that I think more should be done to encourage people to marry. Research shows it is still the idyll that many younger people look to and there should be incentives, like more tax breaks, to help people who take the plunge. That is not to say though that those who chose a different path and are content to live together should not legally have similar rights to those who marry, provided a proper agreement can be drawn up.
I can’t say then that these new stats are any surprise. There is no incentive to marry. It is difficult enough trying to get “back on the horse” if you fall out of marriage in middle age. When you are young you have more pursuits, perhaps bigger circle of active friends and more energy to get ‘out there’. This fades a little as you get older. Any help to push them towards new happiness would be welcome.
It is tragic though that there is this growing army of people left stranded on their own. Any measures that can be taken to address this should be pursued and perhaps looking at the national support system, that appears to make it more cost effective to be on your own than find someone to love and spend your life with, might be a good place to start.